There has been, for some time, more than ample reason to question the judgment of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice with regard to her attempts to “foster” a final peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which attempts lead us now towards the dubious possibility of a conference in Annapolis.
Word has it that the conference was her brainchild, although it was originally announced by the president. In fact, she seems to be supplying the steam behind this entire effort. Her statements frequently have an “other worldly” tone to them. She speaks about the window of opportunity open to us now, insisting that the establishment of a Palestinian state will bring peace to the area. As half of the projected Palestinian state is run by Hamas, and Abbas – who has his own terrorist connections – has never been weaker, one is forced to ponder exactly what she is thinking. It is eminently clear that she has no grasp of the Arab mentality. Reports have surfaced recently describing her comparison, in private conversation, between the plight of the Palestinians and the fight for equality of African Americans in the US; she is said to have compared Mahmoud Abbas to Martin Luther King Jr.
All of this would seem to disqualify her for her self-appointed task. But what she has done this past week exceeds all the rest and provides prima facie grounds for challenging her role as mediator in the Middle East, and indeed her role as promoter of that conference as well.
This past week Condoleezza Rice consulted former president Jimmy Carter on the matter of negotiations with Israel, ostensibly because of his experience in 1978 with Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at Camp David during negotiations that led to the peace accords between Israel and Egypt. Rice is an historian, we are being told, and wishes to profit from guidance that the past might provide.
But Jimmy Carter is so virulently anti-Israel that he must be immediately and totally disqualified as someone who has the capacity to provide Rice with clear-eyed advice.
This is what former aide Kenneth Stein (who resigned from the Carter Center out of refusal to be associated with what Carter had written) said in the spring 2007 issue of Middle East Quarterly about Carter’s book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, released last year (emphasis added):
“[Carter] does what no non-fiction author should ever do: He allows ideology or opinion to get in the way of facts…the narrative aims its attack toward Israel, Israeli politicians, and Israel's supporters. It contains egregious errors of both commission and omission. To suit his desired ends, he manipulates information, redefines facts, and exaggerates conclusions. Falsehoods, when repeated and backed by the prestige of Carter's credentials, can comprise an erroneous baseline for shaping and reinforcing attitudes and policymaking. Rather than bring peace, they can further fuel hostilities, encourage retrenchment, and hamper peacemaking.
“…Carter's grievance list against Israel is long… Carter believes that if the U.S. government reduces or stops its support for Israel, then the Jewish state will be weakened and become more malleable in negotiations… By adopting so completely the Palestinian historical narrative, Carter may hamper diplomatic efforts enshrined in the ‘Road Map’ and elsewhere that attempt to compel the Palestinian leadership to accept accountability for its actions.”
What is startling here is that Carter allowed his bias against Israel to thoroughly weaken the credibility of his book, which was put out replete with distortions of fact. (Where were his editors?) His bias against Israel is not news, however.
That bias was exposed at least as early as 1990. It was then that Douglas Brinkley, author of Unfinished Presidency, revealed that after meeting Yasser Arafat, Carter:
“…drafted on his home computer the strategy and wording for a generic speech Arafat was to deliver soon for Western ears…”
Explained Carter to Arafat:
“The audience is not the Security Council, but the world community. The objective of the speech should be to secure maximum sympathy and support of other world leaders…”
Carter advised Arafat to present himself as a peacemaker victimized by Israeli belligerence, advice that was clearly taken to heart by Arafat.
Then in 1996, Carter, heading a delegation from his Carter Center in Atlanta, served as a monitor for the Palestinian Authority elections; he pronounced them “democratic,” “open,” “fair,” and “well organized.” About these very same elections, former CIA director Jim Woolsey wrote: “Arafat was essentially ‘elected’ the same way Stalin was, but not nearly as democratically as Hitler, who at least had actual opponents.”
The Carter Center in Atlanta is highly relevant to all of this, and may provide the underlying rationale for Carter’s blatant anti-Israel bias, for it has consistently received its major support from Arab sources. Many millions of dollars have come from the Saudi royal family, and from Oman. But it is Carter’s association with the Zayed Center for Coordination and Follow Up, located in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Republics, that requires the closest attention. Founded in 1999, ostensibly as a “think tank” for the Arab League, it took its name from UAE president-for-life Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, now deceased. When Carter received the Center’s Zayed International Prize for the Environment in 2001, he gushed that it had special meaning to him because “it is named for my personal friend, Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan al-Nahyan.”
Harvard’s School of Divinity, however, has been decidedly less enthusiastic about the Zayad Center. The school in 2004 returned a $2.5 million donation awarded to underwrite an Islamic chair, after research by divinity school student Rachel Fish exposed the Islamo-Fascist agenda and the blatant anti-Semitism of the Center. The Center has underwritten a book that claims the Americans themselves masterminded September 11, has hosted Holocaust deniers, and sponsored a talk by a Saudi professor who maintained that Jews use gentile blood in holiday baked goods.
Although the incident with Harvard University was well publicized in the US, Carter has never disavowed his connection to the Zayad Center or leveled any criticism of it. When he accepted his award, Carter – who consistently castigates Israel – referred to the UAE as an “almost completely open and free society.” He has not publicly revised his assessment since.
Condoleezza Rice, in seeking counsel from Carter, has moved beyond the pale of what is acceptable.
One must hope that all those who are offended by Rice’s move will give voice to their outrage and their sense that she is not qualified for her task. We are playing with fire here, as no less than Israel’s rights, security and very existence are on the line.